Materials, Energy and the Environment
Materials, energy and the environment constitute a major resource triangle which forms the physical base of any economy and, to a large extent, determines the level of social and technological development of a nation. In order to appreciate the prime role of materials, we only need to reflect briefly on what life would be like without wood, metals, clay, sand, glass, rubber and plastics. -Energy is one of the most critical inputs in materials production. About 40 percent of the world's total energy consumption is expended in producing and processing materials. It is not surprising therefore that fluctuations in the world energy scene greatly affect the economics and availability of materials. On the other hand, the relatively slow pace of development of heat and corrosion resistant materials is a major constraint on the development and utilization of alternative sources of energy. The environment is both the source and the sink for energy and materials and development in either field usually has profound environmental implications. So far, there has been a tendency all over the world to treat the problems of materials, energy and the environment in isolation, but recent experience has shown that the three factors interrelate and interact in a very complex manner and a systems approach is imperative for any meaningful research involving any of these important resources. In this lecture, the materials - energy – environment interface is examined critically with particular emphasis "- on solid materials which are of primary importance to industrial development. The current development in materials science and engineering will be examined and the contribution emanating from teaching and research activities at the University of Ife, outlined.